There are now a number of new antidepressants for atypical depression. Many people suffering from atypical depression may have been diagnosed with standard depression and given treatments appropriate to that condition. However, treatments for standard depression can be of limited effectiveness for sufferers of atypical depression.
Atypical depression is the most common subclass of depression. Many of the symptoms differ from classical depression, including increased appetite, sleepiness, leaden paralysis (feeling as though one is weighted down with lead weights) and mood reactivity (when one’s mood improves or worsens in relation to positive or negative events or occurrences). In addition, atypical depression sufferers are likely to experience the onset of their symptoms at an earlier age than those with regular depression and women are more likely than men to be afflicted.
While patients with this subclass of depression experience some relief on a course of SSRI (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) such as Prozac or Zoloft, these drugs are of limited effectiveness in treating atypical depression. While reports indicate more favorable results with the older MAOI (Monoamine oxidase inhibitor) drugs, serious side-effects and dietary restrictions were common, leading researchers to experiment with newer treatments, including NDRI (Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor) such as Wellbutrin or Zyban and SNRI (Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) like Cymbalta.
Rather than affecting serotonin levels, NDRI’s function by increasing the norepinephrine and dopamine levels in the brain. Since NDRI treatment results in a greater vitalizing affect than SSRIs, it is particularly helpful for the tendency of the atypical depression sufferer to sleep abnormally long amounts. NDRI’s lack the sexual side effects of SSRI’s, nor do they appear to contribute to weight gain. However, NDRI’s are not safe for people with a history of seizures.
SNRI’s affect both the serotonin and nor epinephrine levels in the brain. They are also used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorders and fibromyalgia symptoms. SNRI’s share many of the side effects of SSRI’s though sometimes to a lesser degree. Cessation of SNRI’s can lead to withdrawal symptoms, so patients using these drugs are generally given a tapering-off dose when discontinuing.
These new antidepressants for atypical depression give hope to people for whom other treatments have proved ineffective. People who feel that their depression symptoms have only been partly relieved by standard treatment may want to investigate the possibility that they are actually suffering from atypical depression.